How many friends do you have?

No, I’m not talking about online friends. I’m talking about real-life, know-you-and-love-you-anyway friends? That’s a completely different question. We may have a few, but some of us – if we’re honest – don’t really have one. And research backs it up. A recent study found that Americans have fewer and fewer real relationships, and that the average American has only one close friend. Staggering isn’t it?

And it’s literally killing us. Our country’s loneliness epidemic is a major health crisis. Another study found that nearly 50% of Americans feel lonely always or sometimes. And the loneliest among us? The younger generations: millennials, Gen-Y, and Gen-Z. Our loneliness epidemic is rooted in another danger: a friendship epidemic. 

In other words, we’ve lost sight of what it means to be friends. When we think relationships, most of us think romantic. Any connection outside of this realm is harder, founded usually in the world of our jobs, hobbies, and common interests. As our interests change, so do our relationships, leaving many of us with nowhere to turn.

In the Church, we rarely talk about friendship. We’ve historically talked a lot about the romantic side of relationships (marriage, dating, singleness) and a LOT about Friended_Maincommunity. Both of these are certainly worth talking about, but they tend to isolate and ignore our need for true friendship and leave a void that neither can fill on their own. It doesn’t matter how much we spend time in community settings like City Groups if we aren’t equipped for something deeper than surface level acquaintances. We need to learn the tools to build true and lasting friendships that shape us for the rest of our lives. This starts not with other people – it starts with confronting our own baggage that stands in the way of loving – and being loved – by others. 

That’s why we’re starting a new series this week called “Friended.” Whether you’re married, dating, single, or somewhere in between, we all need the tools necessary to move beyond surface-level, online-driven relationships to live in real, authentic friendships that last. . Things like comparison, bad communication, avoiding conflict, and struggling with unforgiveness keep us stuck in the cycle of shallowness. But when we bring our messiness to Jesus, he does a work in us that frees us to love people well and learn to be the kind of friend we’ve always hoped to have.

I think these next 4 weeks will bring some significant breakthrough in our lives personally and as a church community – if we open ourselves up to what God wants to do in us. It all starts this Sunday. Don’t miss it!